Writing Wednesday: Crusade Round 2...WOOT!

On the crusade....

Woot!  (That's the word that most makes me think of Rach, as in Rach Writes..., you know the founder of the writing CRUSADE!  (No idea what I'm talking about?  Go here.)

We've all at one time or another posted about this AMAZING blogosphere of writers we're involved in.  We've all made TONS of friends and learned a multitude of helpful tips on writing from each other. (We love our followers and commenters and the bloggers we follow...see our sidebar.  We'd be so lonely without you!)

The Crusade is a way to formally support each other in this writing journey we've all set out on.  Writing may be a solitary act, but we don't need to face the ups and downs that accompany it alone.  Nuh-uh!  Don't do it.  We need each other!!!!

Crusaders, erica and christy have joined up a second time to connect with you all, follow your writing, and learn from you (we hope to help you out from time to time as well!). 

We're excited to take part in the First Crusade Challenge to be announced this upcoming Friday! We can't wait to find out what Rach has up her sleeve!  Stay tuned...!

On writing this week....

Last week I posted about cutting my manuscript down to half of what it used to be.  I cut hundreds of  "was ____ing"s.  Yesterday, I sat reading a published book at the local Barnes and Noble while my kids played on the train table or paged through books of their own.

Do you know how many "was ___ing"s I found on the first two pages alone?????  SEVEN.  Yes, seven.

????????????????????????????????????????????     WT(bleep)!

Just when I think I've figured out how to make my writing clean and crisp, I find that maybe the "rules schmules" I followed may not have been written in stone after all!  Am I not supposed to make my writing more active?  There must be a time when using "was" is totally acceptable, if not preferred. 

At times like these I feel like I'm an idiot for even trying to write AND publish a novel when I've had no "real" training (aka:  degree in English).  I'm going round and round in circles here.

I KNOW that writing actively is better, just like showing is better than telling.  I KNOW that.  AND I feel like my writing is cleaner now than it was before.  SO, I'm sticking to it.  Keeping my changes.  And I will continue to write actively in the best way I know how to.  Will that change and improve over the next year?  Certainly. 
But, is there a right and a wrong?


What rules have you learned and followed only to turn the page in the novel on your nightstand to find that very "no-no" staring you right in the face?



  1. Don't start with dialogue.

    If that's true, then why are there so many books on my bookshelf that begin with dialogue? ;)

  2. Hi to a fellow crusader!

    Oh, there are so many rules you hear and then find examples against it in the bookstore. It's disheartening. The one I noticed the most is dialogue tags. I heard you should stick with "said," "ask," and the occasional "whisper." Then, I read books that have all these other types of dialogue tags I've cut out.

    Like Stina, I've heard the "don't start with dialogue" too. I like to break that rule. Then again, I write genre fiction, and it's not as big a no-no as literary fiction.

  3. All the flipping time. Rules schmules! Although I will admit that the books that break the rules the most do tend to be the hardest ones to read.

  4. comment #37 - suck it Joanna St. James!

  5. Just last semester i realized rules are only a point to go from- even "was" is okay sparingly or used well, problem is that beginning writers need a place to start from and those rules help them grow, then once the writer figures out- hey I don't have to- then they have learned enough usually to limit it as needed and toy with the rules instead.
    Its the same with Commas as well. I had to argue my way out of a "c" paper because i used commas and my teacher disapproved- lets just say in the end I got an A

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  7. I really need to proof before I post...lol

    I so understand your frustration, Christy. As you know I cut my ms in half as well. And you know how I feel about "was." It's only because It WAS drilled into my head by my former crit partners.

    Now I feel that balance is the key. Balance of active and inactive. Balance of prose and dialogue. If your sentences flow and it moves the plot, then you have created a great story. That's how I feel after two years of research, reading, and writing.

    Hey .... We're in the same Crusader group.... WOOT!


  8. I learned the rule: start in the middle of the action with an active first sentence - no backstory, no description. And I kid you not, the last 5 YA novels I've picked up have started exactly the way I always want to start and been told not to. Maybe these writers can get away with it because they're better than I am? But some of them are new, so editors had to get past that first sentence....

  9. The one thing that I've learned is that this business is so subjective it will make you want to pull your hair out. What one person hates another will love, what one says you cannot do, another will do with great success. All you can do is your best, stay true to your vision, and try not to grind your teeth in your sleep over it. ;)

  10. I love the idea of the Crusade! It is exactly what the writing community is all about! Let's see, rules we've learned to follow... That's a tough one because we all keep reading novels that break the rules. Perhaps that there really are no rules!

  11. ergh. Pacing pacing pacing. I am forever more rushing off to the next scene before finishing the one I'm on. Or *completely* finishing. Sigh. But knowing is the first step, yes? ;p <3

  12. Hi Fellow Crusader!

    I see so much passive voice and telling in published novels and I work so hard to get those things OUT of my writing. Ah well.

    It's all about the voice, right? I've also seen plenty of published books with a voice that didn't stand out to me. Again, ah well.

  13. Well, I'm glad I'm not alone. It sounds like we all have our issues with learning rules and then finding the opposite in what we read.

    Heather, yes, subjectivity...hard to swallow, but something we have to accept. Thankfully it gives us all hope..somewhere out there is the right fit for us--an agent and publisher just waiting for us and our writing project(s)!

    Summer-yes..well put. It's like driving I guess. Once upon a time I made sure my hands held the steering wheel at 10 and 2 and, well, now...I'm a rebel at 3 and 9. Kidding, kidding. But I do like looking at it as a starting point to make my writing better...and until somebody who knows better than me (or is publishing me) tells me to loosen up, then I'll follow any rule you, agent blogs, writing books and critiquers can give me. That and to write from my heart/gut.

    Thanks everyone! Welcome Crusaders and new friends. Christy

  14. My friend and I discussed the rules thing. And it seems like debut authors can't get away with it like previously published ones can. BUT, no matter what, we should be writing in a way that makes us happy AND is crisp and active. So maybe, if you're like me, sneaking one or two was ing's in the novel will be your little happy while still following those damned rules.

  15. I've worked hard to show and not tell only to open up a book with tell, tell, tell.


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